IN HONOR OF MOTHER’S DAY
The Feminine Dimensions of the Divine
The Book of Genesis in the Hebrew Tradition has very revealing words and imagery when it comes to appreciating human nature in general and human beings in particular. The First Book of the Bible powerfully celebrates that God created the human person in the “image and likeness” of God. We must be careful in our thoughts and speech about God. We must realize that human beings in all their diversity reflect the majesty and splendor of God.
In more recent times, there has been a surge in our appreciation of the Divine Feminine. The imagery implored for God in the Sacred Writings and Stories of humankind are rich, varied and deep.
We are deeply grateful to our friend, Catherine Tucker, for her contributions to our reflections on the occasion of Mother’s Day. Catherine is a therapist, retreat mentor, organic gardener, mother and friend who has graciously agreed to share her wisdom with us.
The Knowing Essence of the Feminine
In her early 20’s my oldest daughter took a trip on her own to New York to explore the Big Apple, and to make her way in connecting with the land and people of her mother’s family. She had grown up in California and heard her mother’s stories. She wanted, needed a visceral experience of rootedness in her own way and on her terms. I was so excited my daughter was making this trip! And I waited.
Many days went by. A week and more, before the call came. I was already in bed, light off and the phone rang.
“Mom, I get it now. They all serve coffee the way you do and put out crumb cake. We all sit just like you made us, visiting as though coffee with crumb cake is something sacred. And they all wait for the coffee to be poured. They grab me and hug me like they’ve known me all my life. They all hug like you.”
We talked for about three hours. We cried. My daughter told me the tales of her trip thus far. She’d visited the family cemetery and felt the chill of time gone, time remembered and time’s endless patience. She just couldn’t get over how Italian they all were.
“Mom, you were surrounded with so much love. And they get in my space, just like you do, to hug me.”
I raised my children as a single parent. I’d been powerfully conscious about trying to expose them to loving relationships, families engaging, dads and moms loving and fighting. I wanted them to know that family intimacy meant balancing exposure and truth with select deliberate pretense and ignoring. But more importantly, on the west homogenized coast, I struggled to find or create the ‘New York Italian’ (given and unspoken) essence of womanhood.
Grandmothers, aunts, the great grandmother’s and great aunts. Some taught discipline of the mind, some taught refined sensuality, others humor. Some taught the ‘evil eye’ that stopped anyone you gave it to in their tracks, others inspired self-confidence and gave the timely necessary nudge. They, of course, all stated their case that theirs was the best sauce and in this taught diplomacy; somehow they all had to think you agreed their sauce was best! How deeply and how often I hurt that I could not give my children this legacy the way I had experienced it.
But some lessons are in the very nature of the space between the family celebrations, the exquisite pain of losses, the tension such that children stand in silence watching the adult women weave a path through life’s trials. In the sweat and the smell of hard work, fear and of sexuality, miracles happen. The knowing essence of the feminine is in the waiting. It is in the multiple mini depths and breath taking births we take part in. The sacred heart beat pouring from starlight through us into the earth pours back through us again. Like the rivers and phases of the moon, always our divinity is unfolding, eager to speak and be heard.
It is my hope, my prayer, that in sharing stories of my childhood, specifically my grandmother, I will share, multiply and immortalize both divinity and femininity as I leaned it …as it lives in my bones from my childhood and one of my great teachers: my grandmother Rose.